EU citizens review your Cyprus wills
THE FOLLOWING article by the law firm of L.G. Zambartas LLC explains the implications of the recent changes to the Cyprus Wills and Succession law and the introduction of an EU regulation – and the steps that you should take to ensure that any assets (including property) that you own in Cyprus are disposed of in accordance with your final wishes.
Although this article was written for a British audience, the recent changes to the law apply to all EU citizens:
On August 17th, 2015 the EU Regulation number 650/2012 regarding International Jurisdiction and the applicable law relating to Wills and Succession in European Union countries, entered into force and as such it was adopted by Cyprus. When this Regulation was voted on July 4th, 2012 by the EU Parliament and before entering into force on August 17th, 2015, the Cypriot Wills and Succession Law, Cap. 195, was amended on July 3rd, 2015, as below.
In Cyprus the main change regarding Cap. 195, is that Clause 42 has been deleted from the said Law. Clause 42 stated that any person whose father was born in the UK or in any other member of the Commonwealth, may, whether domiciled or not, dispose all of his moveable and immovable property to any person by leaving a Will. Therefore the provisions of forced heirship stated in Clause 41 of Cap. 195 were avoided. In accordance with the provisions of forced heirship, if the testator has a spouse and children and afterward dies, then the heirs are entitled to inherit only the ¼ of his estate by Will and the rest ¾ will be shared among the heirs, according to the said Law.
By the aforementioned amendment of the Cyprus Cap.195, British citizens who have a Cyprus Will are currently subject to Cyprus provisions of forced heirship, if they die on July 3rd, 2015 and onwards. This means that they are not able to dispose their Estate, both moveable and immovable, by Will, as they wish.
However, under the above Regulation, EU citizens, including British citizens, who are not domiciled in Cyprus, will have a choice which law shall apply to their Wills at the time of their death. The choices they have are the following:
a) The UK Law (Domicile of origin) or
b) Cyprus Law (Domicile of habitual residence).
In practice, this means that in the case of British citizens living in Cyprus with a current Cyprus Will, a Codicil to their Will must be signed and deposited to Court, with which they will clearly state that their Estate shall be governed by English Law, in order the applicable Law to their Wills to be the UK Law, covering their Cyprus assets. In such a way the Cypriot Law for forced heirship will not apply.